Saturday, June 18, 2005

Some news from Crikey

This morning there's a couple of articles of interest from that bastion of independent Aussie journalism, Crikey . One from Cristian Kerr describing what looks like a government cover up of the loss of more than 400 people as a refugee ship sank in "international waters" between Indonesia and Australia. The organiser of death ship has been charged but as yet, nothing from the powers that be........ who from the look of it seem to have conveniently no information on the matter.

This one stinks to high heaven.

The trial has failed to answer many of the questions surrounding the tragedy. The SIEV-X sank in international waters south of Indonesia on October 19, 2001, about 33 hours after it left the southern coast of Sumatra. The wooden boat was shockingly overcrowded with more than 400 asylum-seekers, most of them Iraqis.

Evidence given during the trail has revived persistent rumours that drowning passengers were seen but ignored by Australian and Indonesian naval vessels. A Senate Committee investigated the failure of Australian navy to rescue SIEV-X survivors as part of the 2002 Children Overboard inquiry, despite the presence of vessels in the area as part of the shadowy campaign against illegal immigration, Operation Relex. The final report cleared the ADF, but still questioned how the foundering of the ship and the drowning remain undetected.

The Senate Committee investigated allegations that SIEV-X was sabotaged as part of a joint disruption program against illegal vessels by the Australian federal police and Indonesian authorities. AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty refused to give evidence to the inquiry on the grounds that it might prejudice pending investigations, and admitted that the Australian government had no control over Indonesia's disruption activities. The Committee called for a full independent inquiry into Australia's role in disrupting asylum-seeker vessels, but the government has refused to act.

The same allegations have now been raised in the Daoed trial – and remain unanswered. Calls for an inquiry have been mounting in the days since Daoed was found guilty. Labor, the Democrats and the Greens may well up the ante.

Former diplomat Tony Kevin, who has investigated the SIEV-X case, says there will be whistleblowers. “People retire, their consciences start to weigh on them; they have a look at the pictures of those drowned children. They think about the possible role they may have played,” he said yesterday.

The verdict puts new pressure on the government. Will the truth ever out? And will it reveal more shameful secrets of the maladministration of the Immigration portfolio by Philip Ruddock and Amanda Vanstone. Bubbling under are more detention centre abuse stories.

And questions are not only being asked in the media, a Thursday's Senate Hansard reveal a couple of probing questions from Green Senator Bob Brown, nicely batted away by Senator Vanstone under the "international waters" excuse.

The government has either shifted ground on where the refugee boat SIEV-X sank – or Amanda Vanstone has stuffed up yet again. Have a look at her answer to a Question on Notice from Greens' leader Bob Brown on page 113 of yesterday's Senate Hansard:

Siev X
(Question No. 431)
Senator Brown asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 10 March 2005:

With reference to the sinking of the boat known as SIEV X:
(1) Will the Minister now release the list of names of people who are thought to have drowned.
(2) How many queries has the Government had from people seeking the names of persons thought to have been on board:
(a) from within Australia and
(b) from outside Australia.
(3) If the list is not to be released:
(a) what are the precise reasons; and
(b) if one reason is that release of the list would endanger an informant, in what way.

Senator Vanstone – The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:
(1) The Government has no way of knowing or verifying all those who drowned, being an illegal venture out of another country with the tragedy occurring in international waters. Some names of those who have thought to have drowned are held.
(2) Records of requests are not held.
(3) The Government does not hold comprehensive information nor is it in a position to verify it.

Here we go again. “International waters.”

And another story, with rumours regarding Rupert and Hilary Clinton's courting which came via the New York Observor.


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